Editor’s note: The following commentary was recorded at WBAL News Radio 1090 on January 11, 2018.
The Maryland General Assembly opened the 2018 legislative session with its usual pomp and circumstance. But behind the upbeat tone, uncertainty looms on the horizon.
It’s election year. Politics is always in play during any legislative session but it has a stronger presence with election day ahead. The less obvious reason is the tax reform recently passed by Congress.
As reported, the tax bill reduces tax rates on corporations and individuals. But the law also imposes a cap on state and local income and property tax deductions.
Expert predict that even with a rate reduction some taxpayers will face a higher tax bill. Further, as state tax returns rely on the amount claimed on federal tax returns it is expected that the state government will receive a financial windfall.
Does the legislature spend the windfall? Does the legislature propose state tax reductions? Does the legislature hold the windfall to address cuts likely to come out of Washington?
Experts are developing a forecast of the impact on the state budget and economy. But for now, a cloud of uncertainty hangs over the legislative session.
That does not necessarily mean doom and gloom lies ahead. But doing the right thing – not the politically popular thing – will force legislators to address an unintended consequence from the tax reform law.
In this time of uncertainty, legislators must put party politics aside and do what’s right.
I’m Don Fry, President & CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee.